Ray Wilson from Poznan

The wider audience knows him as the third vocalist of Genesis. The more initiated associate him with the groups Stiltskin and Cut_. A few people are aware that the Scottish, Ray Wilson has been living in Poland where he seems to finally have found the  happiness, which he was looking for so long.

In 1994, a bursting with energy hit single “Inside” of Stiltskin opened the door to an international career. The title song attacked the music charts, it was also used as a musical background to a commercial for a well known clothing brand. Although it wasn’t the debut of the vocalist, as in 1993, together with Guaranteed Pure band, he had recorded the “Swing Your Bag” album, the “Mind’s Eye” long play proved that real rock music hadn’t really come to its end.

The name of the band Stiltskin settled for good in the audience’s minds, but to their despair, the group disbanded after released of their first album. There were no traces of Wilson until 1996, when the thrilling news about a Genesis’ new vocalist circulated the world. The decision to replace a singer of the famous band was equally risky and successful, for Wilson’s warm and rasping voice perfectly fitted into the style and tradition of the group, but on the other hand, there was a threat that all the dedicated fans might not have accepted the alterations in the Genesis’ lineup.

The history of Wilson as a Genesis member was tempestuous but short. As a result of the cooperation they released in 1997 the “Calling All Stations” album. In Europe the long play was being sold sensationally well and hits “Shipwrecked” and “Congo” climbed the top of music charts. Unlike in the Old Land, beyond the Atlantic Ocean sales didn’t exceed the expected volumes, which gave the reason for Genesis and Wilson parting. However, the truth is, it was Wilson, previously known from Stiltskin, who brought the music of Genesis’ much closer to the younger audience and contributed to recording one of the most beautiful albums of 1990s. Although Genesis with Wilson as the vocalist had a chance to reach a new, even better dimension, the band didn’t take that opportunity.

Luckily for the fans, they didn’t have to wait long for next Wilson’s project. That appeared to be a band of an intriguing name Cut_. The album “Millionairhead” released in 1999 consisted of rock songs including “Another Day”, “Sarah”, and a fantastic Dave Bowie’s cover, “Space Oddity”, which acquired Wilsons characteristic dynamics without loosing its gloomy mood.

Still, Cut_ was again a one-album project. After recording “Millionairhead”, the vocalist had a two-year break filled with major and minor life’s disturbances. The world heard from him again on the occasion of releasing a superb album “Live and Acoustic” being a summary of achievements from all his previous bands. The album straight away gained the fans’ appreciation thanks to acoustic versions of known and well-liked songs, as well as a daring cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”. A definite additional advantage of the album is appearance of Amanda Lyon, a fine vocalist gifted with a warm and electrifying voice.

The unplugged album initiated Wilson’s solo career. At one-year intervals he recorded two albums: “Change” in 2003 and “The Next Best Thing” in 2004. Both similar in style, oscillating in the mood of Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin, still extremely personal, slightly progressive, yet suitable for a calm night with a glass of red wine. For Wilson’s music matured, became well thought-out, complete but not deprived of spontaneity and the joy of creation.

An important point in Wilson’s solo career was a concert on Polish Radio 3, recorded in 2006, released with the strongly suggestive title “An Audience and Ray Wilson”, entwined with brilliantly told anecdotes between the songs. It was an unforgettable experience both for the audience and Wilson himself. As he confessed in one of the interviews, he’d been really nervous before the show, which actually had never happened before. The concert was preceded by another, recorded on a double album called “Ray Wilson live”, but it was the concert in PR3 that fell into the fans’ hearts forever.

After series of solo albums and gigs, Wilson came back to the Stiltskin project adding his name to it and changing completely the lineup. In 2007 they recorded “She” album referring to the climate of the previous achievements of the vocalist, with heavy, dense guitars and dark lyrics.

However, life is sometimes unpredictable and, surprisingly to all including Wilson, one day he packed his suitcases, moved from Scotland to Poland to be closer to a Polish girl he had fallen in love with and recorded in 2008 his best album to date called “Propaganda Man”. It’s the most lyrically and musically involved album in the vocalist’s accomplishment.

Regardless of the lineups, projects, and their names, Ray Wilson remains a consistent perfectionist. He seems to find his place in the world, which can be clearly heard on the latest album. It’s also amusing that despite the turmoil seizing the world, Wilson follows his instincts which is reflected in still better albums, but also in the fact that Poland gains top shelf artists! 

Anna Jankowiak


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